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Cognition In Child Development


Children cognitive development is one of the most discussed topics in the field of psychology. Since the issue was first discussed in 1967, some researches to determine how of tender age develop, think and learn over time (David and Katherine 66). Numerous reports regarding the topic by different scholars have contradicted in their primary conclusion escalating the need for more research.  For instance, many researchers have provided empirical evidence to oppose the existence of four developmental stages as per Piaget’s’ theory of 1967. In simple terms, cognitive development refers to a gradual process where the child acquires vital skills such as learning, understanding, reasoning, remembering and problem-solving (Kårstad, Wichstrøm and Reinfjell 343). These skills are acquired at different stages of growth.  This paper seeks to create an in-depth understanding regarding cognition in child development, and it affects students in the psychology field.

Understanding Cognition in Child Development

Various studies have discussed cognitive development from different angles resulting in varying conclusions.  One of the most prominent researchers in cognitive development is the Jean Piaget’s theory of development stages.  According to Piagetian theory, children go through four developmental stages between infancy and adolescence. These are sensorimotor (0-2years), preoperational (2-7 years), concrete operational (7-11 years) and formal operational (adolescence) (Deborah 856). According to Piaget, children develop gradually through active learning as they directly interact with the surroundings using their ears, eyes and hands. Piaget observed that each developmental stage was marked by the acquisition of unique development skills. For instance, in the sensorimotor stage specifically at the of 8-10 months, the child has object permanence.  This enables them comprehend that a person or object exists even when they are out of sight. According to Piaget theory, cognitive development is influenced by four factors, experience, maturity of the nervous system, equilibration and social transmission of information.

Apart from Piaget’s theory, many types of research have been conducted with an aim of shedding more light on cognitive development.  For instance, according to Deborah (855) children gain learning mechanism even before birth.  For example, an infant in the third trimester can hear through amniotic fluid. At this stage, the infant’s brain develops the memory for remembering its mother’s voice. This study correlates with the viewpoints of David and Katherine about cognition in child development. According to David and Katherine (3) environment within the womb impacts child cognitive development at a later age.  For instance, alcohol has been observed to have irreversible effects on the child brain development.

Language is also found to be a key determinant of child cognitive development. Language development can portray learning via imitation or analogy.  Through imitation, a child as young as one hour  a can imitate gestures such as mouth opening or tongue intrusion. By the age of nine months, a child can narrow down sounds he/she hears from other people.  An important concept to note down in this stage is pragmaticism in language whereby the meaning of an individual word depends on the context and emotions (Koerber, Osterhaus and Sodian 63). The cognitive development regarding language is highly determined by the maturation of the brain. For instance, the right hemisphere is concerned with visual spatial understanding while the left hemisphere is involved in vocabulary. These effects are notable in the case of a stroke in either hemisphere even at an adult age. Finally, cognitive development is observed through an acquisition of problem-solving skills by children. This is facilitated by learning by analogy.  For instance, at the age of 1 year, a child learns how to reach a toy by pulling a string attached to it (David and Katherine 85).  However, learning by analogy highly depends on the child exposure to the underlying analogy. Moreover, problem-solving skills is also facilitated by the development of child’s working memory as the growth proceeds.

How Understanding Concepts of Cognitive Development Affects Students in the Psychology Field

For pupils in the field of psychology, perusing through various theories and research concerning cognition in child development enables one to understand the topic and key concepts. For instance, one can understand biological, emotional and psychological changes that occur during infancy and adolescence. In this regard, one can comprehend the line of growth and development as the two primary components of cognition. For example, as Piagetian concepts reveal, development entails continuous progression that enables a child acquire hidden knowledge (Deborah 855). In contrast, growth involves physical changes such as height, weight, body shape among others. Understanding and differentiating between these two principal components can only be achieved by learning about cognitive developments and comparing viewpoints of various scholars.

As a student, learning about cognition in a child also enables me to explain the different stages of a child’s growth and development. For instance, applying Piagetian four development stages, it is easier to explain to a parent or a caregiver, why their kids are behaving in a particular manner. In other words, understanding the concepts of cognitive development in children will positively shape my career as a psychologist. For example, it is easy to advise a parent or a caregiver on the role of environment in the child cognitive development. It is notable that children learn by interacting with their milieu, by using their hands, eyes and ears  (Koerber, Osterhaus and Sodian 69).  For instance, children develop speech and language skills by observing the environment using either imitation or analogy. Understanding such concepts will enable me to provide professional advice to parents on ways to enhance their kids’ cognitive development over time.

Understanding cognition in children development can also help a psychology student to be informed about the healthy evolution of a child. In this context, it is easy to determine what’s normal and abnormal in the development of a child. For instance, in cognitive development, healthy child development is defined by the concepts of temperament and mental retardation (David and Katherine 47). Based on temperament theory, healthy child development is classified as easy child, difficult child and slow-to-warm-up child.  Finally, understanding the concepts of cognitive development in children will affect my parental skills later in my life.  I can acquire vital skills related to childcare as a parent. This includes knowledge of how to enhance my kids cognitively and ensuring they have a healthy development.


From the above discussion, it apparent that cognition in child development is a hot topic where scholars have different viewpoints.  However, all the theories demonstrate that cognitive development is a continuous process that starts at a young age.  The environment that a child is raised in also has an upper hand in determining the rate of cognitive development.  This determines the acquisition of skills such as language, speech, problem-solving among others.  The environment can affect the kind’s cognitive development either positively or negatively. For students in the psychology field, understanding cognitive development will significantly affect their career development. Moreover, their parental skills will also depend on their understanding of concepts of cognitive development.



Works Cited

David, Shaffer and Kipp Katherine. Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence. New York: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.

Deborah, Fields. “Arguing Against the Underpinnings of Piaget’s Theory of Development.” Theory & Psychology 23.6, 2013: 855-856. Print.

Kårstad, Silja B., et al. “What Enhances the Development of Emotion Understanding in Young Children? A Longitudinal Study of Interpersonal Predictors.” British Journal of Developmental Psychology 33.3, 2015: 340-354. Print.

Koerber, Susanne, Christopher Osterhaus and Beate Sodian. “Testing Primary-School Children’s Understanding of the Nature of Science.” British Journal of Developmental Psychology 33.1, 2015: 57-72. Print.




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